Murder at the Villa Byzantine
A Country House Crime Mystery with Antonia Darcy and Hugh Payne by R. T. Raichev
Review: Major Hugh Payne and Antonia Darcy are invited to a birthday bash on a neighbor's estate — a party neither wants to attend — but it turns out to be more exciting than they might have originally imagined when, six weeks later, one of the guests is murdered, in Murder at the Villa Byzantine, the sixth mystery in this series of country house crime by R. T. Raichev.
The honoree is Melisande Chevret of Kinderhook. "I don't think anyone is meant to know her age," Antonia tells Payne. "I am not sure we should mention the word 'birthday' at all. It is a cocktail party we've been invited to, don't forget." Among the guests is Stella Markoff, who had arrived in England just ten days earlier with her 16-year-old daughter Monika, "Moon" to her mother and Stella's fiancÚ, James Morland. Stella had taken up residence at the Villa Byzantine, which turns out to be where she is killed, beheaded as it were. Morland asks Payne to look into the matter, as Moon is a person of interest in her mother's murder. "I must admit I don't have much faith in the Law," says Morland. "Nothing but a bunch of bureaucrats. Somebody did behead Stella and it wasn't Moon. I do hope you have a crack at finding the true culprit."
The plot of Murder at the Villa Byzantine progresses much as one might expect, with Payne and Antonia using their social graces and connections to investigate the murders. (Yes, there's more than one, and occurring, not so coincidentally, at the titular residence.) The characters are generally agreeable, if somewhat predictably stereotypical of what passes for the British upper class in crime fiction, and they like to talk. A lot. There is considerable amount of dialog in this book, much of it mindless patter … but that's mostly intentional, as clues to whodunit are buried within. Fans of manor house mysteries in general, and the previous books in this series in particular, will no doubt be pleased with this effort … though most will likely guess at the killer's identity long before Payne and Antonia put the pieces together.
Acknowledgment: Soho Press provided an ARC of Murder at the Villa Byzantine for this review.
Review Copyright © 2011 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Assassins at Ospreys
Soho Constable (Hardcover), April 2008
ISBN-13: 9781569475058; ISBN-10: 1569475059
Location(s) referenced in Murder at the Villa Byzantine: England
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Murder at the Villa Byzantine by R. T. Raichev — A Country House Crime Mystery with Antonia Darcy and Hugh Payne
Publisher: Soho Constable
Publication Date: April 2011
List Price: $25.00
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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